Joining Saturday’s protest outside of York Technical College, Christine Chavis hoped to teach her sons, ages 5 and 8, to stand up for what they believe in.
“I wanted to bring my kids out. It’s important for them to learn and understand the freedoms they have that cannot be assumed,” she said.
“My kids are biracial. They don’t live in that world, they live in my world,” said Chavis, who is white, “so they don’t know what this stuff is all about.”
Protesters gathered for a second day near the college campus, where the Sons of Confederate Veterans were holding an annual convention at the college’s Baxter M. Hood Center on Anderson Road.
“We’re here to support anti-racism, anti-hatred and inclusion,” Chavis said. “I’m very bothered by the apathy of the United States in general. In the past few months people are waking up, but there are still so many people who sit and say ‘Oh, it'll be fine.’ They don’t pay attention.”
Members of Rock Hill and Western York County branches of the NAACP began protests Friday. NAACP members said they’re not protesting the SCV’s right to free speech. They are protesting the Confederate flag, which the SCV uses as its symbol.
“Flags are meaningful. If flags were not meaningful we would not encourage our children to wave an American flag as we walk by in parades,” said Jacques Days, a member of the Rock Hill NAACP. “When we look at the American flag, we see a melting pot of people tossed together to do something great in the nation.”
The Confederate flag, Days said, also has meaning, but not one of togetherness.
“To get a glimpse of its meaning, all we have to do is look at history,” Days said. “It’s not simply the flag, but the ideals that are seen in the flag, the meaning that is cast by the shadow of the Confederate flag. It causes something to rise up in some of us as we see it.”
The protestors also were reminded of the Emanuel nine, the nine individuals who were killed at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston.
“Many of us who see the Confederate flag think back to the civil rights movements and use of the flag by the Ku Klux Klan, but some us look back just a few months ago and consider the man who entered the church house and gunned down nine brave souls,” Days said.
Chester City Council member Angela Douglas said racism must be talked about to move forward.
“We have to make sure we are not falling for dog whistle politics, we’re not falling for the hidden racism, the covert racism,” she said. “That’s why we’re here today. It happens in Chester, it happens in Columbia, it’s happening all over and we have to stand together to move forward.”
On Friday, Leland Summers, commander of the South Carolina Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he sees the flag merely as a memorial banner to those who fought for the South in the Civil War.
“The Confederate battle flag represents thousands of South Carolinians throughout this state,” he said.
The protest ended peacefully.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082